Denver Direct: Park Questions

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Park Questions

from Dave Felice

Now that the “Steering Committee” has decided to grant $2M of Better Denver Bond money to build a performance pavilion at Ruby Hill Park and $4.4M for additional parking at City Park, we need to ask questions.

First, it’s important to recognize that there do not appear to be any neighborhood representatives on the steering committee. The members are mostly the same “do-nothing but get appointed” experts who are making all the other decisions.

The $2M for Ruby Hill is a 100 percent match for money from the Mortimer Levitt Foundation. To the best of my knowledge, the Levitt Foundation requires 50 “events” per year at its pavilions, and the events must be free. So how does Ruby Hill’s designation as an admission based events (festival) site conform with the Levitt requirements?

How big will the pavilion be? Where would admission based events be held at Ruby Hill if the pavilion takes up most of the “bowl” area?

What provisions are being made for a real parking plan? Parking is already inadequate without a performance pavilion.

Does construction of the pavilion make Ruby Hill a “de facto” festival park?

In a meeting at the mayor’s office, Communications Director Rowena Alegria claimed Ruby Hill was not a designated festival events site. I challenged that assertion by pointing out Councilman Chris Nevitt asked for Ruby Hill to be added to the alcohol policy so Swallow Hill could hold an admission based event (which, apparently, never materialized).

I am waiting for more information from Councilman Nevitt. But maybe asking questions is “hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests.”
When I asked where the parking at City Park would would be located, Mayor Michael B.Hancock dismissed the question, saying I was “getting into the weeds” with detail.

The question is important because last time the zoo and museum expanded parking, there was a commitment that no park land would be taken for parking, and that going underground was the only available option. Hancock says he thinks the new project would be surface (ground level) parking.

I don’t know where there’s room for more surface parking at City Park!

We also need to demand neighborhood involvement in how the parking will be built and what it’s going to look like. (What a silly idea that is; we all know the experts have already figured this out.)

I’m supposed to meet with mayoral aide Stephanie O’Malley to get more details.

Also, are these projects going to be assigned to Parks and Recreation or some other agency (Public Works? Theaters and Arenas?)

And it won’t come as any surprise if consultants are hired to hire consultants to plan the projects, and that Mortenson Construction, which had a member on the steering committee, is selected to build the projects.

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